Nightmare Records
Release date: March 29, 2005

User Review
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Mental Torments is the first disc from France’s Spheric Universe Experience (S.U.E.). Signed to Nightmare Records, the band plays a Prog-Metal style akin to Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation. Formed in 1999 as Gates of Delirium, the band started making a name for itself with the demo, “The Burning Box,” and by playing as many gigs as it could get.

The band’s current line-up consists of Fred Colombo on keys, Jonathan Drai on bass, Frank Garcia on vocals, Vince Benaim on guitar, and Nicholas Muller, better know as “Ranko,” resides on the drums. For such a new band, S.U.E. shows a lot of musical maturity in their songwriting. The songs are well-structured and don’t sound meandering despite the fact that they average six minutes in length; the title track itself runs fifteen minutes. Not that that is a feat in the Prog-world, but often those longer songs tend to get filled with gratuitous time changes and long soloing that can take away from the overall theme of the tune. “Mental Torments,” the song, is a musical journey that keeps the listener traveling and interested in where the song is going.

In a band like this, the vocals have to be convincing as they are sometimes few and far between, and would be easily forgotten if not delivered with a lot of power. Garcia has a listener-friendly voice that is very inviting, and he has a strong sense of melody. When he isn’t singing, you really want him back in the mix, which is a testament to how strong his presence is within the band. His voice has the power of Ray Alder with a bit more soul and depth. Drai has a tendency to follow the guitar a lot, as is the norm in the Metal/Rock genre; but he has a few standout moments like the intro to “Sidereal Revolution,” where he takes a cool tapping approach. Colombo is very heavy in the mix, both as atmospheric layering or really cool synth-lines, even Classical piano pieces. “Ranko” is a real treat, doing his job by holding the whole thing together while still showing a sense for the flamboyant.

Spheric Universe Experience will not disappoint the Prog-Metal diehards. Benaim and Colombo trade licks back and forth like many of the veteran bands do. The bass and drums remain tight, all the while jumping between different time signatures and referencing different musical styles. Combine all of the tendencies with some quality songwriting that even the casual AOR listener would enjoy, and you have yourself one hell of a good band with a great first release.


  • Jeremy Juliano

    Jeremy was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He's been involved with and has been following the Metal scene since the early 1980’s. He started out his Metal journey with heavy doses of Maiden, Accept, and Saxon. And in recent years, he has enjoyed the new age of Metal with bands like Hammerfall, Edguy, and Nightwish, to name a few.

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